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UKtech50 2024: Vote for the most influential person in UK IT

Our judges have selected the top 50 leaders from a shortlist of more than 400 people – now it’s your chance to tell us who you think is the most influential person in UK technology

It’s now your opportunity to vote for the 2024 edition of Computer Weekly’s annual UKtech50, our definitive list of the movers and shakers in UK technology – the chief information officers, industry executives, public servants and business leaders driving forward the UK’s digital economy.

Whoever tops the list will be the person who, in the opinion of our judges and readers, holds the most influence over the future of the UK tech sector in 2024 – and hence the future of IT professionals across the country.

Our expert judging panel has selected a shortlist of 50 leaders shown below – chosen from more than 400 nominations, that were suggested by readers, the Computer Weekly team and the judges themselves. Now we want your vote on who you think deserves the coveted top spot on this year’s list. 

The judges’ selection of the top 50 was influenced by several important tech trends – not least the importance of technology in a challenging economic climate. The list reflects the growing influence of AI and the need for ethics in the IT sector. Judges were also keen to promote diversity in the tech community – in terms of gender, ethnicity, geography, industry sector and company size, among others.

The work undertaken by IT leaders in every sector over the past year has shown resilience and innovation, and the top 50 list reflects the hard work of both organisations and individuals.

Last year, the 13th annual UKtech50 saw Michelle Donelan crowned the winner. The secretary of state for science, innovation and technology leads the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), which was set up in February 2023, and sits at the forefront of the government’s efforts to champion technology innovation.

Whoever tops the list in 2024 will be the person who, in the opinion of our judges and readers, holds the most influence over the future of the UK’s digital economy. The winner will be announced at an event in Manchester on 27 June.

Read more about UKtech50 2024 here and submit your vote now – simply click on the button next to the person you wish to vote for and click the “submit” button below the list. Voting closes at 5pm on 10 June 2024.

Our thanks to the team at Nash Squared for their support with this year’s UKtech50.

The full shortlist is also shown in alphabetical order, with short biographies, at the end of this article.

Editor’s note: The final UKtech50 list will be chosen by combining the decision of the judging panel with the votes of our readers. The combined reader vote will carry the same weight as that of one judge, and will provide the UK IT professional input into the order of the list. The editor’s decision on the UKtech50 list will be final.

The UKtech50 2024 shortlist

Names are listed in alphabetical order:  

Adrian Blundell, CDIO, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

A career civil servant, Blundell, who started his career as an IT project manager for the Department for International Development (DFID), has spent the last 35 years championing IT and technology transformation in government. This includes leading work on developing a single platform following the merger of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DFID in 2020.  

Alan Bates, Post Office scandal campaigner; Chair, Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance

Former subpostmaster Bates fought for decades to expose the Post Office Horizon IT scandal, before spearheading a group litigation against the Post Office in 2020, finally proving the subpostmasters were right. Bates continued to push for a public inquiry and was successful, leading to a massive, seven-phase inquiry, revealing the truth and scale of the scandal. Bates was also the hero of the recent ITV drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office.

Alan Chang, Founder and CEO, Fuse Energy

Chang is the founder of Fuse Energy, a full stack renewable energy company, aiming to speed up global renewable energy transition. He may be best known for his previous role as chief revenue officer for banking disruptor Revolut, where he was instrumental to the company’s success. Chang left Revolut to start up Fuse together with co-founder Charles Orr.

Alex Kendall, CEO, Wayve

Kendall is the CEO and co-founder of Wayve, the UK startup using artificial intelligence to build a next-generation autonomous driving system. Under Kendall’s leadership, Wayve has quickly grown from a small start-up to a genuine competitor and disruptor in the autonomous vehicle industry. Wayve recently secured $1bn in investment funding to develop its technology.

Alistair Forbes, CEO, Scottish Tech Army

Tech entrepreneur Alistair Forbes founded the Scottish Tech Army as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of using it as a platform to contribute to the challenges the health crisis created. Working with recruitment agencies, the initiative aims to identify IT volunteers whose skills can be used to support public sector organisations that are developing digital projects.

Allison Kirkby, CEO, BT Group

Kirkby joined BT Group as its CEO in February 2024, succeeding Philip Jansen, who left the position. Kirkby, who is the first woman to hold the job of BT CEO, came to BT from Swedish telecoms provider Telia, where she also served as CEO. She has been on the board of BT Group since 2019 as a non-executive director.

Angela McLean, Chief scientific adviser, UK government

McLean took up the mantel as the government’s first female chief scientific adviser in 2023, coming from the Ministry of Defence, where she spent four years, also as its first female chief scientific adviser. She is also the head of the government science and engineering profession. Prior to taking on her latest role, McLean was a Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College.

Anne Boden, Founder, Starling Bank

Tech entrepreneur Anne Boden founded mobile-only Starling Bank in 2016. She previously held the role as CEO of the bank, but stepped back from the role in 2023. Prior to setting up Starling Bank, Boden worked in several different roles within the banking industry, including a stint as COO for Irish Allied Banks.

Anne Keast-Butler, director, GCHQ

Keast-Butler joined GCHQ as its director in May 2023, becoming the first woman to lead the organisation, succeeding Jeremy Fleming. Prior to joining GCHQ, Keast-Butler served as the MI5 deputy director general, and has a long history as an intelligence expert. In her role at MI5, Keast-Butler led on MI5’s operational, investigative and protective security work, including the agency’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. She has also previously spent time seconded to GCHQ as head of counter-terrorism and serious organised crime.

Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO, Stemettes

Imafidon is CEO, founder and head stemette at social enterprise Stemettes, which aims to encourage young women to choose careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). She has become a high-profile advocate and campaigner, taking part in racing driver Lewis Hamilton’s commission to encourage a more diverse workforce in engineering, and appeared on the Channel 4 show Countdown while regular mathematician Rachel Riley was on maternity leave. Imafidon was voted the most influential woman in UK technology in 2020.

Bev White, CEO, Nash Squared

As CEO of Nash Squared – formerly known as Harvey Nash Group – White heads up the global firm which provides IT recruitment, technology solutions and leadership services out of 36 offices across the world. White has a long background in the tech sector, having previously held roles as CIO and director of IT, as well as completing a degree in computer science.

Caroline Bellamy, Chief data officer. Ministry of Defence

Bellamy joined the Ministry of Defence as its chief data officer in 2020, where she is responsible for transforming the use of data across the entire pan-defence estate. She was also instrumental in creating the first ever data strategy for defence. Prior to taking on the role at the Ministry of Defence, Bellamy was the chief data officer for Ordnance Survey.

Charles Forte, CIO, Ministry of Defence

Forte became CIO at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in January 2018. Before taking on the role at the MoD, Forte spent six months as interim CIO at Thames Water. Previously, he was CEO of group IT services at Prudential from March 2015 to the end of 2016, and before that, deputy group CIO and CIO of global operations at BP, as well as spending time as an independent consultant.

Chi Onwurah, Shadow minister for science, research and innovation, Labour

Chi Onwurah is the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central and is the shadow minister for science, research and innovation. A chartered engineer and former head of telecoms technology at UK regulator Ofcom, she is vice-chair of the Parliamentary ICT Forum (Pictfor) and former board member of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK

Clare Barclay is CEO of Microsoft UK, where she is responsible for all of Microsoft’s product and service offerings in the UK and for supporting the success of its commercial customers and partners. Prior to October 2020, she was the software giant’s UK chief operating officer for four years.

Colin Birchenall, Chief digital officer, Glasgow City Council & chief technology officer, Digital Office for Scottish Local Government

Birchenhall holds many hats within Scottish local government. He has been the CDO for Scotland’s largest local authority, Glasgow City Council, since 2016, and also holds the role of chief technology officer for the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government. Birchenhall also chaired the working group for the development of the Health and Care Data Strategy on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Craig Bright, Group CIO, Barclays

Bright joined Barclays as its group CIO in 2020, where he is, among many other things, spearheading its work on AI. In his several decades long career, he has held numerous high profile positions globally, including as CTO of Citi in New York, and Group CIO of Westpac in Australia.

Daljit Rehal, Chief digital and information officer, HM Revenue and Customs

Former Centrica IT chief Daljit Rehal was appointed chief digital and information officer at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in September 2020. He is responsible for a budget of more than £1bn and oversees some of the highest-profile IT systems in government, such as taxes, national insurance and the customs applications at the UK’s complex post-Brexit borders. Rehal is also the deputy president of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.

Darren Jones, Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Labour

Jones is currently serving as the Labour MP for Bristol North West, where he has been an MP since 2017. He became the the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury following the 2023 shadow cabinet reshuffle. He is a recognised voice within the technology policy, and co-chaired a Parliamentary inquiry into technology ethics in 2019. He also has also lead the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum (Pictfor).

Debbie Forster, CEO of Tech Talent Charter

Debbie Forster is an award-winning diversity, tech, and education advocate and CEO of the Tech Talent Charter, an industry-led membership group of over 700 signatories working to improve diversity and inclusion in the tech ecosystem. She received an MBE in 2017 for services to digital technology and was named 2019’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT by Computer Weekly.

Demis Hassabis, Founder & CEO, Google DeepMind

Demis Hassabis founded artificial intelligence company DeepMind in 2010. The company, which was bought by Google in 2014 for about £400m, is involved in several AI projects across sectors, including the NHS. Before founding DeepMind, Hassabis completed a PhD in neuroscience at UCL. He was a previous UKtech50 winner in 2019.

Felicity Oswald, interim CEO, National Cyber Security Centre

Oswald joined the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) during its inception in January 2023, helping lead the design and build of the centre as its chief operating officer. She was appointed the interim CEO of NCSC, following Lindy Cameron’s departure from the role. Prior to joining the NCSC, Oswald held several positions within the civil service since she joined in 2005.

Gill Whitehead, Group director, Online Safety, Ofcom

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum – which consists of the Competition and Markets Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office and Ofcom – was formed in July 2020 to strengthen the working relationships between the watchdogs and establish a coordinated regulatory approach to the UK’s digital services and economy. Appointed CEO in November 2021, Gill Whitehead will play a key role in emerging UK regulation of the online world.

Greg Jackson, CEO, Octopus Energy

Jackson founded and launched Octopus Energy in 2016. The company’s green tech platform sits at the heart of its success, and the company has gone from strength to strength over the years. Octopus Energy is now the second largest energy provider in the UK.

Helen Kelisky, Managing director for Google Cloud, UK and Ireland

In her role as managing director for Google Cloud, UK&I, Helen Kelisky oversees the business and its sales strategy across the region. As part of her role, she leads development of Google Cloud’s go-to-market business and sales operations, working with her team to support customers on their digital transformation journeys.

Helen Thomas, CEO, Digital Health and Care Wales

Helen Thomas joined Digital Health and Care Wales as CEO in 2021, prior to spending a year as the interim director of the NHS Wales Informatics Service where she led the organisation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital Health and Care Wales aims to enable digital transformation within the NHS in Wales, and deliver high-quality technology and data products and services. Thomas is also a BCS fellow.

Ian Hogarth, Chair, AI Safety Institute

Tech investor and entrepreneur Ian Hogarth was asked to chair the government’s AI Foundation Model Taskforce in June 2023. As chair of the AI Safety Institute, Hogarth has overseen the development of the institute’s evaluations platform, Inspect, which was launched in May 2024.

Indro Mukerjee, CEO, Innovate UK

Indro Mukerjee joined Innovate UK as its CEO in May 2021. Prior to joining the UK’s innovation agency, he co-founded the UK Electronics Skills Foundation where he served as a non-executive chairman for 11 years. Mukerjee has a degree in engineering science from the University of Oxford and is a graduate of the Wharton Advanced Management Programme.

John Campbell, Chief operations officer (IT), The Scottish Government

Campbell joined the Scottish government three years ago, first as its deputy director for cloud and digital services, before heading up digital operations, and becoming the chief operations officer (IT) in February 2024. He was previously the chief information security officer for Social Security Scotland.

John Edwards, UK information commissioner

New Zealand’s former privacy commissioner John Edwards was selected by the UK government to succeed Elizabeth Denham as information commissioner when she stepped down from the post in October 2021. Edwards, who served two five-year terms in New Zealand, was appointed to that post in 2014 and oversaw the introduction of the country’s 2020 Privacy Act. He was also chairman of the Global Privacy Assembly – previously the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners – from 2014 to 2017.

John Quinn, CIO, NHS England

Quinn was officially appointed CIO for NHS England in June 2023, following a stint as its interim CIO. He was previously the executive director of IT operations and enterprise services at NHS Digital, which merged with NHS England last year. In his role as CIO, Quinn has been responsible for putting together a new, merged digital and technology team at NHS England, as well as delivering digital technology across the NHS. Prior to joining the NHS, Quinn spent eight years in various leadership roles at the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Julian David, CEO, TechUK

Julian David is the CEO of technology trade association TechUK. He was appointed as the director general of Intellect in March 2012 and led its transformation to TechUK in November 2013. Julian has spent more than 30 years in the technology industry, mostly working for IBM in various roles, including vice-president for small and medium business in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Africa and then for five years as vice-president for public sector in the UK, Ireland and South Africa.

June Angelides, VC, Samos Investments; Founder, Mums in technology

Angelides founded, and until 2017 was CEO of, Mums in Technology when on maternity leave from Silicon Valley Bank, where she held roles as an associate for accelerator growth and an associate for entrepreneur banking. She’s currently a board observer for many firms, including Everpress, Flair and Jude, and is an investor at Samos Investments and Ada Ventures. Angelides was awarded an MBE in 2020.

Karl Hoods, Group chief digital and information officer, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

Hoods joined the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero as its CDIO in June 2023. His role covers responsibility for digital and shared services functions across both his department and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, as well as the provision of core productivity services to the Department for Business and Trade, as well as other public bodies. Prior to this, Hoods spent five years in the (then) Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as its CDIO before transitioning into his current role. He was previously the CIO for Save the Children UK.

Laura Gilbert, Director of i.AI, the Incubator for AI at 10 Downing St

Gilbert joined 10 Downing Street as its director of data science in 2020, before adding on the role as the director of the Incubator for AI in November 2023, joint chief analyst for the Cabinet Office and senior responsible owner for the AI for Public Good programme. Gilbert holds a doctorate in Particle Physics and Computing, is a Visiting Professor at LSE, and holds fellowships of the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Analytics. Prior to working in government, she ran medical tech company Rescon together with her husband.

Lisa Heneghan, Global chief digital officer, KPMG

After 12 years with KPMG, Heneghan took on the role of global CDO in 2022, having been the UK CDO for four years previously. In her current role, she oversees the firm’s $5bn investment in technology, people and innovation, accelerating the organisation’s digital transformation programme. She also sits on the firm's executive committee. Heneghan has more than 30 years' experience in the technology industry, and is member of the World Economic Forum’s Chief Digital Officers Community.

Mark Logan, Chief entrepreneurial advisor to Scottish Government

Former Skyscanner chief operating officer Mark Logan completed a review for the Scottish government in August 2020 that examined opportunities for the country’s tech ecosystem. He was subsequently appointed as an adviser to help with implementing his recommendations, including the Scottish Techscaler programme, aiming to establish Scotland as a world-class technology hub.

Matt Clifford, Chairman, Advanced Research and Invention Agency

Clifford has been the chair of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) since its creation in 2022. The agency, backed by £800m in government funding, aims to champion and take risks on R&D and innovation. Clifford is also the founder of Entrepeneur First, an organisation investing and supporting innovative startups to grow, and also sits on the board of Code First Girls. Previously, Clifford led the design work for the UK Frontier Taskforce. He was awarded an MBE for his services to AI in 2024.

Melanie Dawes, Chief executive, Ofcom

Dawes has headed up Ofcom since 2020 following her previous role as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as many other roles across the civil service. She has previously been a trustee at Patchwork Foundation, which aims to encourage under-represented young people to participate in democracy, and a non-executive director of consumer group Which?

Michelle Donelan, Secretary of state for innovation, science and technology, DSIT

Michelle Donelan was appointed secretary of state for science, innovation and technology in February 2023, prior to which she was secretary of state in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Donelan was last year’s winner of UKtech50.

Mike Potter, Chief digital officer, UK government

Mike Potter was appointed as the government chief digital officer in July 2022. Prior to taking on the role, Potter was the interim executive director for digital transformation and group chief information officer at Thames Water. He previously held several positions within government, including director of EU exit capability at the Cabinet Office and Future Border System programme director at HM Revenue & Customs.

Mustafa Suleyman, CEO, Microsoft AI

Suleyman was announced as Microsoft’s head of AI in March this year. The newly created Microsoft AI will focus on advancing the Copilot family of generative AI assistants and other consumer AI products and research at Microsoft. Prior to joining Microsoft, Suleyman co-founded Google Deepmind, as well as another AI company, Inflection AI.

Nicola Hodson, CEO for UK&I, IBM; TechUK deputy president

Nicola Hodson joined IBM in January 2023 as its UK and Ireland CEO. Prior to joining IBM, Hodson spent 14 years at Microsoft in various roles, most recently as vice-president of global sales, marketing and ops for field transformation. She is also the deputy president of TechUK.

Peter Kyle, Shadow science, innovation and technology minister, Labour

The Labour MP for Hove was appointed shadow secretary for science, innovation and technology in 2023, and is working on creating Labour’s AI Strategy, due to be published shortly. The strategy aims to build trust with the public by being open and transparent about its own use of AI and algorithms.

Richard Corbridge, CDIO, DWP

Richard Corbridge joined the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as its chief digital and information officer in April 2023, where he is responsible for managing an annual budget of £1.4bn, driving the department’s digital ambitions. He joined DWP from Boots where he held several roles, most recently as its CIO. Corbridge is also member of BCS’ Fellows Technical Advisory Group (F-TAG). 

Sarah Cardell, CEO, Competition & Markets Authority

Sarah Cardell was appointed the CEO of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in December 2022, but held the role as an interim since July 2022. Prior to being named CEO, Cardell was general council at the authority for eight years. The CMA is taking an increasing interest in the tech sector, not least in a recent decision to block Microsoft's $68bn acquisition of video game giant Activision Blizzard, an investigation into emerging AI markets, and is examining the public cloud sector.

Sheila Flavell, COO, FDM Group; President, TechUK

A member of the tech sector for 30 years, Sheila Flavell was appointed chief operating officer of IT services firm FDM Group in 2008, and is an executive board director of the firm where she spearheads FDM’s Global Women in Tech campaign and FDM’s Getting Back to Business programme, aimed at providing opportunities for returners to work. She is current president of TechUK, a council member for the Digital Skills Council, and is frequently called to advise government committees on various issues, especially around the digital skills gap.

Toni Scullion, Computing science teacher & founder of dressCode

Scullion is a serial founder, having founded dressCode, a not-for-profit that encourages young women in Scotland to consider a career in computer science; and co-founded the Ada Scotland Festival, which aims to use collaboration to close the gender gap in computer science education in Scotland.

Yvonne Gallagher, Digital director, National Audit Office

The NAO’s digital transformation expert joined the auditor in 2013 where she leads its digital insights team. Prior to joining the NAO, Gallagher held several high profile technology roles, including as the CIO of Affinity Sutton and the Ministry of Justice.

Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO, Salesforce UK

Zahra Bahrololoumi was appointed Salesforce UK and Ireland CEO in November 2020, and joined in March 2021 to lead the company’s operations in both markets. She came to Salesforce from Accenture, where she had been leading its technology practice for UK and Ireland. 

Judging the UKtech50

The judging panel was chosen to represent different perspectives in IT – so each individual acted both as an impartial and expert judge, as well as an advocate for their area of interest. The judges were:

  • James Woodward, director of communications at BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT.
  • Matthew Evans, director of markets at TechUK.
  • Rhona Carmichael, chief commercial officer at Nash Squared
  • Robert Grimsey, group marketing director at Nash Squared

    Our judging panel chose the top 50 candidates based on the following criteria:

    • Influence: What authority or ability does the person have – either through their personal position or the role they hold – to personally influence the development of UK technology, or to influence others in positions of authority?
    • Achievements: What has the person achieved in the past 12 months to help the development of UK technology?
    • Profile: Is the person recognised as a role model for aspiring leaders? How widely are they acknowledged by their peers as an authority and influence on UK tech?
    • Leadership: Does the person demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to be seen as a leader in the development of the tech community in the UK? Do they have a leadership role and does that help them develop the role of technology in the UK?
    • Potential: How likely is it that the person will have a significant impact on UK tech in the next 12 months? Will their authority and responsibility grow?


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